Biden bashes Trump's immigration pause over coronavirus as 'irrational'

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Joe Biden blasted President Trump on Tuesday over his promise to suspend immigration into the United States for 60 days in an effort to make sure Americans laid off because of the coronavirus pandemic are able to secure jobs once the economy recovers.

"Rather than execute a swift and aggressive effort to ramp up testing, Donald Trump is tweeting incendiary rhetoric about immigrants in the hopes that he can distract everyone from the core truth: he's moved too slowly to contain this virus, and we are all paying the price for it," Biden said in a statement.

Trump said Tuesday that he wants Americans to be "first in line" for jobs when he said he would sign an executive order to temporarily halt immigration. The announcement came after Trump initially announced his plan via Twitter late Monday.

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“By pausing immigration we will help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs,” Trump said. “We must first take of care of the American worker.”

The order would apply to people seeking green cards and will not impact workers entering the U.S. on a temporary basis. The ban will be evaluated after 60 days, Trump said, after he reviews economic and unemployment figures.

Around 22 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits in the past four weeks as many businesses have been forced to close amid state-lockdown orders, resulting in massive layoffs and furloughs.

Biden said the U.S. should screen travelers for COVID-19, whether they are citizens or not, to contain the virus. He added that Trump should instead focus on increasing testing instead of targeting immigrants.

"But it is irrational to refuse to focus the full force of the presidency on producing and distributing the number of tests we need to determine whether all people entering the U.S. — regardless of citizenship status — are carrying COVID-19, and to successfully contain the virus," Biden said. "That's one of the most glaring failures of this president's response and sending inflammatory tweets to try to hide it helps no one."

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In a separate statement, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee called on Congress to create a "Pandemic Testing Board" to ensure states receive critical supplies to ramp up testing.

"The time for excuses is over, Mr. President, and the time for urgency — real urgency — on testing is now," he said. "America cannot afford to wait any longer."

Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly contributed to this report.